The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has large reserves of cobalt, gold, gems, copper, timber, and uranium. However, the most valuable resource that the DRC possess is its large reserve of diamonds. Diamonds essentially serve as a pillar to the DRC’s struggling economy.
The Town of Beni
Beni lies within the North Kivu region of eastern DRC. The economic centre within the Kivu region is Goma, 400km south of Beni. The town lies 50km west of the Uganda-DRC border, which is dominated by the remote Rwenzori mountain range. 100km north-east of Beni along the same Ugandan border lies Lake Albert, used by hundreds of thousands of Congolese to flee to relative safety in Uganda.
Beni is surrounded by dense forest, an ideal hiding ground for assailants. The Rwenzori mountain range which runs along the DRC-Ugandan border is known to house several groups under the rebel Allied Democratic Force (ADF) umbrella.
The Allied Democratic Force (ADF) is a merger of several Ugandan Islamist insurgency groups and other regional militias who seek to undermine the DRC government’s control of the Kivu region.
In 1996, Uganda sided with the secessionist state of South Sudan against Sudan (Khartoum). In return, Sudan funded the ADF in a bid to strengthen Ugandan insurgencies embolden anti-government sentiment within the western Uganda corridor. The ADF group is known to have loose links with what remains of the Islamic State (IS), yet the levels of cooperation are unknown.
It has been reported that the original aim of the ADF was to establish an Islamic caliphate within the DRC-Uganda-Rwanda region, nevertheless, it is no longer evident as to whether the group still has this aim or any cohesive ideology. In the spring and summer of 2019, SITE Intelligence Group reported that IS claimed responsibility for ADF terrorist attacks against civilians in towns bordering Beni.
During 2020 it was reported that the town is surrounded by thick jungle, hundreds of the town’s residents have been murdered at the hands of foreign rebel forces. The area has become a hotbed of instability with the local population undergoing food insecurity, Ebola outbreaks, kidnappings, sexual assault and forced militia enlistment. A sizeable UN peacekeeping presence in Beni has done little to halt the frequent incursions of rebel militias into the town.
November and December 2019, were the bloodiest months recorded since 2017 within the Kivu region with 397 civilian deaths were recorded. In November 2019, the World Health Organisation confirmed the murders of at least four Ebola health workers and injuries to a further five at the hands of rebel militias.
Within the same month, a United Nations peacekeeping force camp in Beni was stormed by irate residents, who have been calling for the UN to leave the region. Beni protesters also set their Town Hall and Mayor’s Office alight. The town’s residents remain frustrated at the local government and UN forces for allowing rebel militias in the region to kill hundreds of residents at will.
Coltan is used primarily for the production of tantalum capacitors, used in many electronic devices. Coltan is important in the production of mobile phones; and tantalum capacitors that are used in almost every kind of electronic device. Approximately 80% of the world’s supply of Coltan is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Coltan is mined by hand in the Congo. Their methods are very similar to how gold was mined in California during the 1800s.
The coltan industry is worth tens of millions of dollars a year. The price for coltan ranged between $50 and $200 per pound in 2012 and has spiked much higher in the past when supplies were scarce. In 2006, Australia, Brazil, and Canada produced 80% of the world’s coltan.
The Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa is one of the world’s most resource-rich countries. A wide range of rare minerals can be found here in abundance, all commanding high prices in world commodity markets. Diamonds for jewellery, tantalum, tungsten and gold for electronics; uranium used in power generation and weaponry and many others. Congo has copious deposits of raw materials that are in high demand internationally but remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
Cobalt mining in DR Congo
Fungamwaka – a mine in the east of Congo.
Belgian Congo, French Congo Belge, former colony (coextensive with the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo) in Africa, ruled by Belgium from 1908 until 1960. It was established by the Belgian parliament to replace the previous, privately owned Congo Free State, after international outrage over abuses there brought pressure for supervision and accountability.
John Bredenkamp, Dan Gertler, Billy Rautenbach, Benny Steinmetz, Augustine Katumba Mwanke …..
The United Nations Panel of Experts on DRC named both men for plundering copper and cobalt from Katanga, and both deal globally in weapons. Bredenkamp is one of the fifty richest men in England and he reportedly owns a mansion several doors down from Margaret Thatcher’s residence in London.
There are no records or statistics of the numbers of people brutalized or killed in the diamond or cobalt mining areas, like Kolwezi, Mbuji Mayi, Tshikapa, Banalia, or Kananga in DRC, or Ndola in Zambia, and many of the victims of security abuses will never be known.
On 7 November 2007 it was reported that Dan Gertler was instrumental in
putting together a deal in which Katanga Mining Ltd. would buy rival NIKANOR
for $2.1 billion and merge their adjacent mine projects in Congo to form the
world’s largest cobalt company. Also announced was a joint venture between
the Central African Mining & Exploration Company (CAMEC) and another
Gertler-controlled firm called Prairie International Limited.
Dan Gertler and the Steinmetz Group’s partner Jewish-American Nir Livnat is also a director of Anglovaal Mining with Rick and Brian Menell and Basil Hersov of the South African Menell and Hersov dynasties. Hersov has been named as a beneficiary of fraud and racketeering involving British BAE Systems weapons deals with shady offshore companies.
The octopus of South African connections is a story in itself, with links to top officials from Britain to Canada, like Canadian Senator J. Trevor Eyton, and offshore mining companies involved in all the big money (diamonds, gold, petroleum, cobalt) and big corporations with interlocking directorships: Coca Cola, Nestlé, General Motors, and the Bush-connected Barrick Gold Corporation. Barrick, of course, is partnered up with the Oppenheimer/De Beers firm Anglo-American Corporation at six sites in Africa, including Congo.
Rick Menell is a director of Bateman Engineering-owned by Benny Steinmetz-the junior partner of the NIKANOR projects in Katanga. Britain’s Earl of Balfour is a director of both Bateman and NIKANOR. Menell is also the director of Teal Exploration and Mining, whose directors include Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique; Murray Hitzman, a Clinton administration official with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (1994-1996); Hannes Meyer, who worked with Anglo-Gold Ashanti in Congo, 1999-2006, when militias in Ituri were funded to get the gold out. Teal Exploration also has ties to Anvil Mining and Anglo-American Corporation.
Brian Menell, Nir Livnat’s associate on the board of Anglovaal, is on the board of Energem (formerly DiamondWorks) with Tony and Mario Teixeira. The Livnat connection ties Teixeira into networks that have supported both Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba in Congo’s bloody wars. Energem is also involved in the trans-Uganda-Kenya pipeline, along with Nexant, a subsidiary of the deep intelligence and defense insider Bechtel Corporation.
Brian Menell is also on the board of First Africa Oil, which operates in seven African countries, and First Africa Oil director John Bentley is a director of Osprey Oil and Gas, whose directors include Carol Bell, a director of the Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank. Bentley is also on the board of Adastra Minerals-formerly America Mineral Fields (AMF, AMFI, AMX), a company based in 1995 in Hope, Arkansas-and set up by Robert Friedland and Max and Jean-Raymond Boulle, notable “friends of Bill” Clinton.
Since 1995, American Mineral Fields has been involved in Brazil, Russia, Norway, Zambia, Angola and the DRC. A criminal backer of the war in DRC, Jean-Raymond Boulle, who holds 36.4 % of the company stock, was the former General Director of De Beers in Zaire, part of the Templesman alliance of terrorism under the Mobutu regime.
The Gertler/Steinmetz interests apparently curry huge favors with Congo’s number two most powerful man, Augustine Katumba Mwanke, one of Joseph Kabila’s closest allies and financiers, former Governor of Katanga (1998-2001) and director of Australia’s Anvil Mining.
The UN Panel of Experts (2002) cited Mwanke for illegal arms deals and plunder of Congo: Mwanke negotiated arms purchases through Belgian banks and the DRC mining company MIBA. Reportedly, Mwanke personally clears $US 1,000,000 a day through his interests in Katanga mining deals.
Anvil Mining has been involved in massacres in DRC. Anvil directors include former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth L. Brown, who served at U.S. embassies in Brussels, Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville and South Africa. Brown was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa (1987-1989) under George Schultz and George H.W. Bush and Director of Central African Affairs (1980-1981). The former top internal intelligence and security chief of the United Nations Observer’s Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has been worked for Anvil mining in Katanga since 2006
Billy Rautenbach (former head of Hyundai SA) (Muller Conrad Rautenbach) and a well-known figure in the Central African cobalt market and a shareholder in Central African Mining and Exploration Co (Camec), was added to the list for “having strong links to the government of Zimbabwe”, according to the EU’s official journal. Rautenbach is also thought to have supported senior regime officials during Zimbabwe’s intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during the Second Congo War (1998-2003), the official journal said. Ridgepoint Overseas, a company owned by Rautenbach and run from the British Virgin Islands, has had its assets frozen as part of the increased EU sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe.
In the feeding frenzy over the documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, the names of notorious business men who profited from deals done in the Congolese war and its aftermath – Dan Gertler, John Bredenkamp, Billy Rautenbach – began to emerge. RAID has tracked these individuals and their companies for some considerable time.
In an effort to determine what measures might be taken at the end of the commercial chain to control the trade in resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and sever its links to the armed conflict, the Panel surveyed 17 end-user countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. Many of these countries serve as secondary transit points and processing centres as well as major consumer markets.
They included Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. In its requests, the Panel stressed that its aim was not to obstruct trade, but to identify mechanisms or practices that would eliminate the costs in war and human lives that occur in the course of extracting and commercializing resources from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In seeking these countries’ views, the Panel made reference to a range of possible initiatives, while leaving open the possibility for innovation based on lessons learned from other conflict situations. Four countries did not respond: India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. Few respondents commented explicitly on the role that the trade in these commodities plays in fuelling the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Panel identified 11 African States through whose territory goods originating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are likely to pass. Some are directly involved in the conflict, namely, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The remaining seven are the Central African Republic, Kenya, Mozambique, the Republic of the Congo, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.
The Panel submitted questions to all 11 countries and held substantive discussions with government representatives from five. The Panel enquired about relevant legislation, investigations into the flow of the commodities, measures taken to curb those flows, other possible action to be taken and those Governments’ needs for assistance. Four of the 11 countries – the Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe – declined to respond.
The Panel later identified yet another transit point for Congolese coltan, Nigeria, and requested information about this trade. No response was received. Virtually none of the countries that responded to the Panel’s questions had conducted any investigations or adopted any specific procedures for the identification or inspection of the transiting of commodities from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Ugandan authorities mentioned the impounding of a cargo of smuggled ivory.
South African officials confirmed the seizure of a sizeable clandestine shipment of diamonds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but provided no details. None of the authorities in these countries gave any indication that Congolese resources traded through their territories should or could be regarded as conflict goods. Almost none of the countries proposed any meaningful measures to help curb trade in Congolese commodities that are tainted by criminality and militarization. Kenya, however, proposed the reopening of the Northern Corridor route, under the Transit Transport Coordination Authority, with the assistance of the international community.
Approximately 25 per cent of Eagle Wings coltan is shipped from Kigali to the Ulba Metallurgical Plant of NAC Kazatomprom, in Kazakhstan. Another 25 per cent is sold to the parent company of Eagle Wings, Trinitech International Inc. in the United States, which arranges for sales to both Ulba and to the Chinese processing facility at Ningxia Non-Ferrous Metals Smeltery (NNMS).
H. C. Starck, based in Germany and a subsidiary of the transnational corporation Bayer AG, purchases about 15 per cent of Eagle Wings coltan. H. C. Starck has denied on numerous occasions obtaining coltan originating from Central Africa. In a press statement issued on 24 May 2002, H. C. Starck reiterated that the company had purchased no material originating in Central Africa since August 2001.
Collapse of the public sector; armed conflict and its humanitarian consequences.
The diversion of funds from State companies and public coffers, by fraud or under the pretext of effort de guerre, has contributed to eliminating funds available for public services. The public sector in the two Kasai Provinces has effectively disappeared. Of the five water production plants in Kasai Oriental, four plants no longer function and the fifth, in the city of Mbuji Mayi, is said to function at less than 20 per cent capacity. Of the six water production plants in Kasai Occidental, five no longer function; the sixth, in the city of Kananga, operates at best at 10 per cent capacity.
Government officials blame the precipitous decline in public spending on the war. Most soldiers are unpaid and become social predators, financing themselves through theft and pillage, living off the population they are presumed to protect, and provincial governments make little effort to discourage them. Taxes and licensing fees have nevertheless increased, as have the forced acquisition of the resources of State enterprises in the name of the war effort. The Government has therefore benefited from the state of war by using it as a pretext, not only to justify an increase in demands on the population to increase government revenues, but also to justify a decrease in expenditure. Insecurity in the Government-controlled area is only a small part of the consequences of support for the military in war. It is much more a consequence of the deliberate neglect of the military, who by virtue of this neglect turn their weapons on the population.
The Panel has identified elements that are common to all of the elite networks and that are essential to understanding the nature of the exploitation carried out by these networks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This network has transferred ownership of at least US$ 5 billion of assets from the State mining sector to private companies under its control in the past three years with no compensation or benefit for the State treasury of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The richest and most readily exploitable of the publicly owned mineral assets of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are being moved into joint ventures that are controlled by the network’s private companies. These transactions, which are controlled through secret contracts and off-shore private companies, amount to a multi-billion-dollar corporate theft of the country’s mineral assets.
Some 30 businessmen, politicians and military officers are the main beneficiaries of the arrangements. The elite network has been trying to legitimize such corporate theft and market these assets to legitimate international mining companies.
The Panel has now obtained documentary evidence that Mr. Al-Shanfari’s company, Oryx Natural Resources, is being used as a front for ZDF and its military company OSLEG. Sengamines claims an 800 square kilometre concession, just south of Mbuji Mayi, carved out of the concession of the Société Minière de Bakwanga. According to company officials, Sengamines’ diamond concessions would be worth at least $2 billion if they were put into full production.
Tremalt Ltd., represented by Mr. Bredenkamp, holds the rights to exploit six Gécamines concessions containing over 2.7 million tons of copper and 325,000 tons of cobalt over 25 years. Tremalt paid the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo just $400,000, but the estimated worth of the six concessions exceeds $1 billion.
The joint venture running the concession is the Kababankola Mining Company, in which Tremalt has an 80 per cent share to Gécamines’ 20 per cent. Under this agreement, the Panel has learned that Gécamines derives no direct financial benefit. Although Tremalt representatives told the Panel that they have invested $15 million to date, there are no signs of substantial investments having been made on the concessions, nor has any schedule of investment in the form of a business plan been released to Gécamines.
Like Oryx, Tremalt insists that its operations are not linked to ZDF or the Government of Zimbabwe. However, the Panel has obtained a copy of the confidential profit-sharing agreement, under which Tremalt retains 32 per cent of net profits, and undertakes to pay 34 per cent of net profits to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 34 per cent to Zimbabwe.
This profit-sharing agreement was the subject of a confidential memorandum from the Defence Minister, Mr. Sekeramayi, to President Mugabe in August 2002. Tremalt also undertakes to provide the Congolese and Zimbabwean militaries with motor vehicles, trucks, buses and cash payments as necessary. These are to be subtracted from the two countries’ part of the profit share. A forum has been established between Tremalt and ZDF to plan strategy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and “look after the interests of the Zimbabweans”. Meeting monthly, the forum’s main members are General Zvinavashe, Brigadier Moyo, Air Commodore Karakadzai, Mr. Bredenkamp, the Managing Director of KMC, Colin Blythe-Wood, and the Director of KMC, Gary Webster.
Groupe George Forrest (GGF) in partnership with the United States-based OM Group currently runs one of the most profitable mining operations from the Democratic Republic of the Congo with only the most marginal benefit for the State mining company, Gécamines.
Through this venture, the Scories du Terril de Lubumbashi (STL), also known as the Big Hill Project, Mr. Forrest and OM Group have secured access to a copper and cobalt stockpile which contains over 3,000 tons of germanium, a rare metal used in optical fibres, infrared lenses and telecommunication satellites. This stockpile, formerly the property of Gécamines, has a current market value of more than $2 billion. Although the shareholdings for the STL project are divided between OM Group (55 per cent), GGF (25 per cent) and Gécamines (20 per cent), the State company has been expressly excluded from the revenues derived from the germanium processing.
John Bredenkamp, who has a history of clandestine military procurement, has an investment in Aviation Consultancy Services Company (ACS). The Panel has confirmed, independently of Mr. Bredenkamp, that this company represents British Aerospace, Dornier of France and Agusta of Italy in Africa. Far from being a passive investor in ACS as Tremalt representatives claimed,
Sandrian Mining, based in Kinshasa, has a contractual relationship with MBC. Thorntree Industries, a joint venture between South Africa-based Nico Shefer’s Tandan group and ZDF, also has contracts with MBC, as does Mixen Trading, which has offices in Zimbabwe.
MBC sells to the United States-based Flashes of Color, and the Swiss-registered Ibryn & Associates, as well as to the Belgian-registered Jewel Impex, Komal Gems and Diagem. One of the most important trading partners of MBC is the Belgian-based company Abadiam, which buys from MBC as well as directly from Sengamines.
The Panel has bank records dated September 2001 showing transfers of more than $1 million from the Belgian account of Oryx Natural Resources to Abadiam.
The elite network maintains close commercial ties with transnational criminal networks, including those of Victor Bout, Sanjivan Ruprah and Richard Muamba Nozi. Victor Bout’s aircraft are utilized for a number of purposes including transport of coltan and cassiterite, the transport of supplies into mining sites, and the transport of military troops and equipment. During the last major military campaign in Pweto, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Victor Bout’s aircraft were used to transport RPA personnel to the area.
Sengamines supplements its revenues by laundering diamonds smuggled from Angola and Sierra Leone. Sengamines also smuggles its own diamonds out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Panel has learned of specific instances, times, places and persons involved. For example, in March 2001, Mr. Al-Shanfari instructed his security chief to smuggle diamonds from the Sengamines concession to Johannesburg, South Africa, and deliver them to Ken Roberts, the chief executive of Serengeti Diamonds.
In one instance on which the Panel has documentation, Mozambique Gemstone Company provided false documents establishing Mozambique as the origin of a shipment of coltan originating in Rwanda and transiting through South Africa. Mozambique Gemstone Company then sold the consignment to AMC African Trading and Consulting Company Ltd., based in South Africa, which subsequently sold the consignment to H. C. Starck Ltd. in Rayong, Thailand, on 21 September 2001. H. C. Starck sent a letter of credit for this consignment on 9 May 2002 to Chemie Pharmacie Holland, which oversaw the transaction, and which is a commercial partner of Eagle Wings providing logistical and financial services. Eagle Wings is the only coltan source for Chemie Pharmacie. Eagle Wings has no operations in Mozambique.
In mid-November 2001, the Department of Lands, Mines and Energy of RCD-Goma conducted a study of Hamad Khalil’s performance in the first month of his tenure. His quota had been set at a minimum of $500,000 per month. Mr. Khalil met his quota exporting diamonds valued at $576,380 over a period of 27 days.
Read the full report who were and are involved…. control and manipulations